The prognosis

The IPCC has reported regularly on climate change science for 20 years. Its last report was “unequivocal” that climate change is with us, and is set to get drastically worse unless we take urgent action.
Nature, through both oceans and forests, currently absorbs about half the CO2 we put into the air. The rest of it stays in the atmosphere for centuries.

However, the amount of carbon soaked up by natural ecosystems is declining steadily.

So stabilizing emissions is not enough. Every tonne of CO2 we emit makes things worse. To stabilize temperatures at a sufficiently low level, we have to stop emitting as fast as we can.

WHAT IF WE DON’T?

“Business-as-usual” looks bad for business – and just as bad for people and nature.

Global temperatures will continue to rise – by at least 2-4.5ºC by late this century. Warming will be greatest on land, especially continental interiors, and in the polar regions.

As a result of warming, with more heat energy and water vapour in the atmosphere, climate and weather of all kinds will become more extreme.
  • Storms, including hurricanes, may become more intense and more frequent. Wet areas will generally become wetter and dry areas drier.
  • Droughts, which are already more frequent, will get longer and more intense, and extend to new areas – including the Mediterranean, Middle East, Central Asia and southern Africa, which can all expect substantially less rain.
  • Melting glaciers and ice sheets on land will raise sea levels.
According to analyses published since the IPCC’s 4th Assessment, we can expect more than a 1-metre sea-level rise by 2100, enough to displace at least
  • 100 million people in Asia, mostly in eastern China, Bangladesh and Vietnam;
  • 14 million people in Europe; and
  • 8 million each in Africa and South America.

However, sea-level rise will not stop in 2100.

All that could be just the start...

There are tipping points in the climate system, which we are very close to, and if we pass them, the dynamics of the system take over and carry you to very large changes which are out of your control.

James Hansen, NASA, June 2008

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Donate to WWF

Your support will help us build a future where humans live in harmony with nature.